Today is the birthday of Leonard Nimoy, the actor and science-fiction legend who is best remembered for playing the Vulcan character Spock on Star Trek, which remains one of television’s biggest cult and mainstream successes of all time.
Nimoy played a character in Spock which perfectly bounced off of Captain James T. Kirk, the equally memorable character on the show played by William Shatner, and the two men were like a intergalactic Lennon/McCartney in a metaphoric sense and even like a sci-fi version of The Odd Couple sometimes; the cool, emotionless, logical demeanor of Nimoy’s Spock bouncing Saturn-like rings around the emotional, zealous, and passionate fervor of Kirk. The two characters formed a mutual admiration society with each other, regardless of their perceptions of the other’s foibles and shortcomings, and successfully navigated their way through endless adventures, as the famous catchphrase goes, “seeking out new civilizations and boldly going where no man has gone before.”
The chemistry between the two men played a huge part in the overall success of the show, first experiencing a minor but loyal audience during it’s original run during the late 1960s on NBC TV and then exploding as a major hit in syndication thereafter and into the many theatrical releases, the first of which started in 1979 and went up until the 1990s. Now, with the new cast playing the familiar and famous characters (with Zachary Quinto donning the pointy ears to play Nimoy’s famed role) in J.J. Abrams reboot, retread and re-imagining of the franchise in the 2009 film (in which Nimoy had appeared) and the upcoming Star Trek Into Darkness, the legend of Leonard Nimoy is thrust even further into the stratosphere of adoration and respect from his peers, cohorts and fans around the globe.
Even though Nimoy (like Shatner) had been virtually iron clad tightly sealed stereotyped in the role as soon as he played it on Star Trek, somehow, unlike say George Reeves, whose trappings in the role of Superman on television during the 1950s basically prevented him from getting roles in any other format due to extreme typecasting Reeves suffered and which may have been a factor to his untimely death at the end of that decade, Nimoy has almost seemed to enjoy the fact that he’s become an iconic character of television and popular culture, and he’s also been able to parlay a successful career largely independent of his stint with the program.
Since Trek, he’s appeared on shows like Mission: Impossible, did a memorable turn as a guest murderer on a very memorable episode of the detective yarn Columbo, where he played a very high-strung, highly unlike Spock, anxious and paranoid antagonist on the show, and was the host/narrator of the syndicated In Search Of program of the late 1970s into the 1980s, which examined many mythological and urban legends rather un-biasedly, raising importantly pointed questions which questioned the validity of sundry amounts of topics ranging from the existence of the Loch Ness Monster to the JFK assassination.
The perfect bottom end rich bass dulcet tones of Nimoy’s voice lent itself perfectly to the program, adding an air of authority and class to what could have been possibly a schlocky early form of a reality TV program in less than capable hands. In later years and recent memory, he was on the FOX-TV show Fringe, which coincidentally was co-created and produced by none other than JJ Abrams.
And it doesn’t end with his work in TV and film either. He’s also a highly acclaimed photographer, an artist jack of all trades, he also directed several Star Trek films, and some other productions, even venturing into comedy films, which he showed a surprisingly sure footed approach to. Still running strong, like his counterpart Shatner, the verve of Leonard Nimoy outruns and classes ions of fellow men in his respective business and medium who are half his age. He’s truly an iron wizard, a sight to behold, a running influence which remains constant, like rapids down a large mountain.
Celebrate the life and work of Leonard Nimoy today, on his birthday. From Star Trek to the upcoming Star Trek Into Darkness, in which even though he won’t be in the film, his presence looms large in that world and universe that is Star Trek, regardless of the incarnation of the franchise, like a mythological being who is regarded in the highest order and is still with us, who continues to live long and prosper, in every sense of the word.